Childhood Dreams

This Week’s Prompt: 37. Peculiar odour of a book of childhood induces repetition of childhood fancy.

The Resulting Story: In The Closet
This week’s prompt is an interesting trip into the notions of childhood, fancy, and nostalgia. Sense information stimulating memory is a fact so certain it is almost common sense. That a certain sight or sound might bring recollections long forgotten to the fore, but smell strangely enough seems particularly adept. Among writers, it is probably the most neglected sense, far from the favorites of sight and sound. Personally, I blame language, which is read and heard more than it is inhaled through the nostrils.

The place then is what sort of memory is conjured by the childhood book. It is an odd memory, a fancy that is ‘repeated’ not recalled. This indicates a sort of delusion perhaps. Or maybe the fancy is being told to someone?

It’s also of acute intreast that it isn’t the contents of the book, but the smell of the book that recalls the fancy. Again, as a book lover will tell you, there is an old book smell. But what sort of fancy is so tied to the smell of a childhood favorite, rather than the words or pictures? It seems logical to suppose that the book itself must be key, or something in the book. A stain, a flower pressed between the pages, a leave that has in a way become one with the paper.

The childhood fancy is thus more likely an incident that touches on the book as a physical object rather than as a container of ideas and feelings.


Next is the examining of fancy. What is a fancy? I will brush aside a perfect dictionary definition. A fancy seems, colloquially, to be a notion. Or rather, a brief thought about the world that is not necessarily true. A recurring bit of imaginative practice. I might say that a childhood fancy of mine was that a chicken was lurking in my closet at night, despite our house being miles away from such foul fowl. Another might be that a teacher is a vampire, that an old lady down the street is a witch, and other similar concerns. Concerns that, in retrospect, are probably a tad silly.

What I would consider childhood fancies, then, are sort of in that place we discussed briefly before of magical realism. They are extensions of the child’s mind and conclusions to create a dream like reality the child operates in. They aren’t questioned or even in the realm of questionable things, being unstated and assumed facts of the child’s existence.

One that, presumably, is inaccurate. An adult may find his childhood fancies therefore silly, or he might find himself longing for those more innocent years, where he could believe in such things. Certainly, there is a running theme of longing for the innocence of children by adults, wanting the comfort and presumed simplicity of yesteryear. It is tied deeply with other nostalgia, longing for what memory has obscured into simpler, kindlier days.

Without tipping my own hand on the matter too much, I think such presumptions were made to be overturned. Memory has a tendency to abandon half of what occurred, either the good or the ill. And given that we have been without, well, straight forward horror for a time, I believe the ill be what is missing.

In this case, perhaps the smell restores a fancy that was clear as a child, but the adult dismissed until recollecting it. Fairy stories have provided us endless terrible creatures that prey on children, from ogres to beasts of the woods. Perhaps he or she recalls a nasty encounter with one of these nightly terrors?


But then, how did they survive?

Leaving that question be, a return home to confront a monster that one believed since childhood to be a mere fable seems a fairly good start for a story. Apart from the ultimate question we mentioned above, there are a few others that will need answering. Why is the person in question back in town? Presumably they left long enough not to encounter the book again. What do they remember the monster as? An imaginary friend? A nightmare? A more mundane horror?

Of course, there is also the question of ‘what the thing is?’ but that is a question to save for later in the cycle. I think, if we are to create a childhood nightmare, it should be something tailored. Folklore creatures are wonderful, but for now simply inventing a new beast might be better. I’ve yet to engage in that for sometime. I might fall back on folklore for inspiration, of course, but the field of frightening children is a…broad one indeed. If you have a favorite, post it below!

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It Fades. It All Fades

This Week’s Prompt:36. Disintegration of all matter to electrons and finally empty space assured, just as devolution of energy to radiant heat is known. Case of acceleration—man passes into space.

This Week’s Research:The Gate To Nothing

A rock floats in a dark jetsam of nothingness. In the distance a dim, dying red light lands on the small rock. In prior ages, describing stone as rotted would perhaps be inappropriate. But by now, the general gradual decay and disintegration of the world has left us with few words for the crumbling state of existence then rotting. Holes of un-reality work their way through the foundations as I watch the solid stones laid long ago turn into ash and dust.

Such is the state of the world.

Randolph and I have grown up in the world this way. It was a bigger rock, and when I was little there were more stars. Stars that were all colors, stars far away and near. This last one was the one we ended up on, one of three scientific bets. We had a chance to fix things, and there were enough people back then for bets without certainty. Now there’s just the two of us, on this rock. We saw the last, glorious light of the distant blue star ages ago as it siphoned away into the void.

Such is the state of the world.

The state where our little garden, the New Eden of a New Jerusalem, has died. Died within months, actually. Ranolph was disappointed, he was hoping to see the pure red that happened when a dying stars light played on the blossoms of a rose. I expected them to die. But then, I expected him to die. That part isn’t true yet, not all the way. His limbs are only now starting to decay, the skin flaying as radiation takes its toll. But he’ll die.

There’s no way to reverse, yet. It’s the state of the world that’s causing it. Something got broken back when there were hundreds of stars, when as a little girl I could wake up and count them in the sky, and needed more than fingers and toes. Back before that even. I grew up on a world that wasn’t, in the beginning, ours. Our world was a heap of burning refuse by then, long forgotten at my birth. Maybe that’s what broke the whole of existence.

“There’s really no need for all this.” Randolph mutters, as I strap on his servo arm. “Arm’s still gonna catch it and my hand feels fine.”

“Feels fine, sure. But there’s more left of the bushes then your fingers, and I need a functioning assistant.” I say, frowning. He wasn’t wrong though. The energy released by the slow decay of his skin would wear it out too. Calling it a disease might be wrong, but decay and disrepair spread with no other good analog.

“You still think it will work then.” Randolph said, following me down into the basement.

“It can’t make things worse, can it?” I said, flicking the light switches on. Three buzzed on out of the twenty or so, barely lighting the room. They’d been going out one after another for weeks now. Some had broken down cords, others had shattered glasses. A lot were just that much more dust in the wind.


“It could make it faster. That’d be a bit worse, I think. Give us less time to enjoy things, wouldn’t it?” Randolph said, walking over to the console and flicking it on. The multiple redundancies kept it running well enough to appear normal. We only replaced a few buttons a week, most with the somewhat more intact duplicates. We’d get another two months out of it before it collapsed into dust, dust into component atoms, and finally atoms into particles, which would vibrate into the cosmic soup and void.

But for now, the console clicked and beeped. The great fans began whirling above us, grinding to life. They served the simple, if fundamentally necessary, purpose of clearing out all the rot and decay from the larger more elaborate machinery. The glass tubes took longer to decay, having been designed as self repairing on the atomic level. Eventually, a few particles too many would fall away, and that would be the end of that.

Then the actual mechanics began to buzz with light. Elaborate webs of tubes began to glow with flashes of energy, collisions of captured particles, thousands of careful combinations of the very foundations of reality.

“In all honesty, I wonder if this is causing things somehow.” Randolph said, as I examined the digital display. Paper couldn’t be wasted out here, there wasn’t enough stuff to keep permanent records. Our minds would last the longest, we hoped, so we memorized all the negative results.

“Yeah, maybe. But the alternative is that we just let it happen. And to hell with that. I want to see the stars again.”

“You think this is it then? That there’s really nothing else out there but us?”

“We haven’t heard anything from anywhere else.”

“Maybe their quiet?” he said, leaning on the wall. When I turn to look at him, I can’t really argue with him. Randolph’s back has been hollowed out some, like a burnt or collapsing tube. The flashes of decay are like sparks off a burning log.

“Maybe.” I said, looking up at the roof. Another hole has rotted in the supposedly perfectly stable crystalline. Dug by invisible termites and worms. “But we’d see them, wouldn’t we? So far away, you’d think they’d want to see us too.”


The whirling is gaining speed, the flashes are on the last few combinations.

“When things are falling apart,” Randolph continues, looking at the rapidly rusting hand of his, slowly turning green and red. The copper wires were becoming almost as thin as spider webs. I couldn’t keep looking at him. “When things fall apart, when the center cannot hold…sometimes things wind down and that is that. I don’t know. It feels far away.”

He’s getting far away, fading fast. I’d offer to replace more pieces, to rebuild his back and his arm, but we’re already short on matter. I have another hour. I have another hour of hoping the random blasts of particles and smaller things, things I can’t conceive, will create something again. Will reverse the trend.

We figure, we figured I suppose, with the rest gone on to that side of the sea that no one ever comes back from, we figured that if something as spontaneous as the Apollo missions could cause the world to collapse then something as small could set it all right again. Some small cancellation of the equation, a slight change in the balance would do the reverse.

And yet, for decades, centuries, who knew? Time didn’t work right without points of reference. For however long, nothing happened. Nothing changed. But we had time. We had generations to figure it out. My parents and their parents and their parents all saw the attempts to undo whatever harm our ancestors had brought into existence unwittingly. Theories at the exact cause were thrown and forgotten. Aether made a comeback as a possible source of the failure. But nothing.

Nothing. And now, we couldn’t hold much more than a few particles.

And I watched as nothing continued to happen on the screen. I felt slight pulses of heat as Randolph faded to nothing behind me. He wasn’t gone yet, as long as the dim heat continued. He wasn’t gone yet. He wasn’t gone yet.

“I wonder if we could adjust the speed by repairing the feed.” I said, keeping my eyes towards the machinery. You can’t look at someone leaving. It’s rude to stare. And what do we have left, here at the end of the world, if we don’t have are decency.

“Not much broken.”

“Maybe breaking it would help?” I say, ignoring the faintness of his voice. “Feed more particles, increase the odds of a reversal.”

Of course, really, I wonder if were looking through an infinite desert for one needle, one gleaming diamond in a great rubbish heap. It might come, it might come yet.

“Doubt it. You ever wonder if something comes next?”

“You remember butterflies?” I say, ignoring the question. “I wonder if they’ll be back first. Or if life’s too complex to come back like that, so soon.”

The heat was fading now. I could step closer, I could try and persist in pretending a little longer. Randolph certainly wasn’t moving any time soon. But I could. But I couldn’t. There was a weight. A weight that seemed to root my feet and eyes. It had been growing and growing and growing, and now it transfixed me to my spot waiting for what I knew was coming. I waited.

And I felt the heat stop.

Not suddenly. For a moment, it stayed as a memory. A residual touch, a distant feeling that worked its way through my skin.

And then there was a flash on the tube. And I watched as the minus, a minute late, became a small illuminated cross. And felt the dust began to build itself back together. And alone on that island in the deepest darkest of seas, I wept while the world was reborn.


I had trouble with making any horror in this. I settled on abandoning horror entirely, and writing something of a tragedy. Or maybe just something contemplative. I don’t know, honestly, what to call this thing I’ve made of bones and sinew. It’s strange and familiar, but painful to see. I suppose there’s something simple dour about what I’ve made. A feeling that I’ve had, knowing something dreadful was coming. But we’ll see.

Next week, a new topic. Something more…cheery. Something more innocent. Almost more…childish. Come and see!

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The Gate to Nothing

This Week’s Prompt:36. Disintegration of all matter to electrons and finally empty space assured, just as devolution of energy to radiant heat is known. Case of acceleration—man passes into space.

The Resulting Story:It Fades,It All Fades

The prompt this week is one of a cataclysm made by human kind’s ascension to an unacceptable height, specifically beyond the bounds of the earth into the stars. There are echoes of similar stories in both Classical and Biblical stories of hubris that we will discuss before examining the possible story routes this might take, from stories of survival to stories of despair. And perhaps how each could take the form of horror.

Hubris is a tradition among the Greeks for years. It is perhaps best and most famously expressed in the story of Icarus, where in Daedulus is imprisoned by King Minos in a labyrinth of his own construction. Daedalus constructs two sets of wings using wax and feathers in order that he and his son might fly across the sea and escape. He warns Icarus not to draw too close to the sea, or the waves will engulf him, or too close to the sun, where the wax will melt. Filled with joy at his wings, however, Icarus flys toward the sun and then plummets to his death as his wings melt away.


Bellérophon, one of the first heroes of Greek Myth, likewise meets his death in ascending. With the horse Pegasus, he attempted to ascend Olympus after slaying the Chimera. He attempts this twice over Pegasus’s protests. The third time, Pegasus bucks him per Zeus’s instructions, and Bellérophon…well, plummets to his death.


These two stories of hubris, however, are personal tales. The prompt is regarding one of more cosmic significance. And for that, there is the time honored tradition of the deluge story. The deluge is a tradition across the world, and often has something to do with humanities…problems. Among the Greeks, the Deluge was over the decline of Bronze Age man. Among those of the Near East it was due to the noise caused by humans, disturbing the sleep of the gods. The Bible implies, by placement, that the flood was caused by perhaps the Nephilim or the raising of the Tower of Babel. The Maya story varies, but reasons include transgression or neglect of proper duties.

I could not locate the cause of the Hindu flood, which was also survived by a man with a boat. This begins the second theme of these myths: after the deluge, the survivors (if there are any. The Maya story has every member of that race of mankind destroyed) repopulate the earth and often play some role in defining the laws that are to come. This next race of human kind is almost always shorter lived and less grand then their ancestors as well. But they are more pious or perhaps more strongly instructed to avoid offending gods in that way.

The flood then is the means by which the divine punishes mankind for stepping past his bonds. But…well, the heat death of existence is a good deal more permanent then that. Heat death is the reduction of all movement, all existence to nothing. The prompts to something more like the end of Ragnarok or the floods of fire in Revelation, which have a sense of total annihilation. These though are eventually followed by rebirth. The death of the Sun in Egyptian and Aztec myth is more akin perhaps, but still not quite imminent enough.

No we must abandon folklore here, I fear. It is too cheerful and lacks the sort of dread and doom that this story seems to imply. The fear being invoked here is one of emptiness, of annihilation in every capacity. It’s an almost tragic doom decreed by fate. And for that, inspiration might come from the realm of Poetry.

Particularly, the poems around the end of World War 1 come to mine. T.S. Elliot’s Hollow Men at the end becomes that disturbed and doomed atmosphere. The Second Coming by Yeats is much similar, although one filled with dread of a coming future more than a wasteland. There is in both, however, a sense of collapse of the world and everything around it. From these we might create an account of the final days of the universe.


The horror of annihilation must be balanced against the implicate tragedy. After all, while a slow death of existence is somewhat horrifying in the existential way, it is …well, rather dull. By definition, little happens as the universe winds down. It is a whimpering slow death, not the grand death of dramas. How to make that engaging then?

Well, partially this can be achieved by drawing an omniscient description of decay, but a purely descriptive story is rather boring as well. No, it occurs rather more interesting to describe how the last man becomes the last. The wandering of two souls, one on the verge of death, the other weighing whether to follow him into the void that expands forever outward and inward. Or perhaps the person struggles in vain to reverse the collapse? That might be the best yet.

Yes, an island floating in the void, as the ground around it breaks apart, as the plants begin to wither provides an excellent marker of time as things end. Who these people are is another matter entirely. I am not sure myself. I would be in favor of scholars and scientists, stereo typically those most capable of such feats as to hold back the flood gates of oblivion.

That is all I have for this prompt this time. But maybe, in this broken jaw bone of lost kingdoms, you have seen etched something grander. Something more beautiful. Or more dreadful. Similar topics have been discussed here and here.

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The Tears Begin To Show

This Weeks Prompt: 35. Special beings with special senses from remote universes. Advent of an external universe to view.

This Week’s Research: Djinn and Beyond The Grave

Kavets village had had a terrible winter. It was colder, Alyona muttered, then ever before. The snow was thicker, the trees seemed more dead. The world seemed to be caked in a thick malaise of some sort, giving everything a feeling of rigor mortis. Fire wood resisted the ax, water took longer to boil, the air was more a persistent and dreadful fog that you could almost swim through.

And then there were the men, if you could call them men.


They were mostly old men, Dmitri and Kuzmas being the notable exception as young boys. They’d gotten together their hunting rifles, their old war rifles, their stolen rifles and said no more when the draftsmen came. They wouldn’t send more young men off to fight, more wheat to feed the pigs in Moscow, no more obedience to strict laws about where trains would be placed. Alyona had been with them for a time, but Kuzmas said a woman’s place was back on the farm, while the men went out to fight.

As Alyona walked the latest bread to the main of the village, hoping to find some more wood for the fire, she saw them coming back in their mock uniforms, cheering. A bunch of old men and boys with guns, convinced they’d stop all this feudal nonsense. Alyona noted they were back from the wood, coming east. They always marched around the village to the woods on the hill first, filling it with the latest catch before coming to the village.

To protect the sensibilities of the children. That didn’t stop the occasional gruesome souvenir or spectator from the village women. One, Nasha, had a necklace with a bloody hand sewn on, to keep the wicked hands of revolutionaries away from her at night. She hung it over her door.

“You see how he shook?” Dmitri said with his loud, drunken voice.

“Wind, good brother, wind.” One of the older men said. “Dead men don’t move that much.”

“Shame we couldn’t get more.” Kuzmas said, shaking his head. “They go fast don’t they.”

Alyona wondered how fast Kuzmas would go, should the fights draw closer. Every day, they came back sooner. And Alyona had noticed, as she had worked on sewing, that there seemed to be one or two less, never mentioned, when they came back from the woods.

“Oh, well, you can’t expect it to be perfect.” Kuzmas had said with a shrug. “People get lost or scared and run off. And once or twice, they get shot. But only once or twice. Don’t worry about it. Those damned fools are getting scared by the woods more and more, they’ll leave us well enough alone by winters end.”

As the party passed the street, talking still about the warning woods and boasting of how many conscripts they’d sent running, Alyona heard a whisper on the wind. It sound high pitched, almost like a cats. The sound rose briefly, pushing her along, before fading.

Alyona decided it was a headache, and went back to finding firewood in the village square.


Days past between that and the next fire fight. Kuzmas had trouble telling the difference in movements. Kuzmas kept to himself about what happened on the train tracks. There was no need to bother the women about the explosion. They’d tied a few grenades together and made something like a pipe bomb. Kuzmas didn’t tell the women that they had missed. That maybe they aimed to high, and hit someone or something in front of the tracks, and that while the other men appeared ignorant, he had seen blue blood flying with Dmitri’s.

“Where’s Dmitri?” Alyona asked as he walked back, rifle over his shoulder. Kuzmas smiled and lied that he had gone off alone to drink in the woods.

The woods was were they had their pacts and sermons. When they got their hands on officials from Moscow, they brought them to that old woods where fairy tale giants and ogres built castles to the sky. Naum, who had fought briefly in the wars of the Tsarists, and who had come back from the city with something witch-like in his eyes, often told them it was a good place for a burial.

“There are old spirits here, that tell me if we bury them here, offer their bodies here, they will be made pure and the spirits will fight with us.” Naum said, typically when explaining why the bodies of so many officials hung from the tries. Kuzmas didn’t care much for talk of spirits. He cared for cutting the men who stole his father and brother, no matter how much they screamed.

Kuzmas was fairly certain if their were spirits in the wood, however, they weren’t kindly ones.

“Where’s Ivan?” Alyona would ask. Kuzmas would lie. Say he got scared and ran off. There was no need to worry her about the occasionally skirmish that drew nearer and nearer. Something calmed his blood whenever he thought to bring it up.

Kuzmas didn’t care much for talk of spirits. But he knew they were there. One, a tall one with great owl eyes and long blue fingers and arms, followed him wherever he went. Kuzmas only saw it once or twice, and it left no tracks. It just stared with it’s great eyes, and opened it’s mouth to speak. But nothing ever came out.

A living man came into the village one day, dressed in a conscripts uniform. He’d come home, this old hand, this man of war who’d seen the front and the trenches. He’d come home, back to Alyona, who had smiled on him before he left and wept for him after. He’d come home, this Makariy, sober and with his rifle.

He smiled at Alyona, but the smile of a distant person. He didn’t say a word.

“He was looking for the village in the old woods.” Kazmus told her, himself smiling the first sincere grin he’d had in weeks. “He has news, back from the fronts out east.”


Alyona again heard that tone, that ever rising whistling tone. That sharp, steady, slowly pericng tone. Had Kazmus the presence of mind to look, he would have seen his blue imp squatting on her shoulder, mouth agape to speak.

The villagers gathered around Makariy without much prompting. There were gifts offers, praises to God and saints, and other rejoices at the return of a prodigal son. Makariy, with shaking hands, refused all things. He only asked for a chair to stand and speak on.

“I…” he said, the next world strangled by invisible hands for a moment before beginning anew, “I have not come how merely for celebration.”


The villagers murmured a bit.

“I’ve come with a warning. When I fled my regiment, to come home and protect the land of my father, and my fathers father, and so on, I learned something terrible. The Red Army is closing in.”

Alyona frowned as the whistling began to drown out Makariy’s words. Now, though, it had slowly morphed into a song. A song who’s lyrics, in the wind, were muddled and unclear. But there was something earnest in them, like a long forgotten lullaby from child hood.

“-at least a thousand men, to root us out.” Makariy finished when Alyona could focus again. The crowd was aghast. The three score fighting men could hardly hope to hold out against so many. Even with the entire village, how could they hope to hold out and be victorious.

“Can one not stand against many?” Naum said, standing up, his long beard making him look like the icons of wild prophets. “Can we not, as the Maccabees of old, fight off these invading foes?”

“The Maccabees still had God.” Makariy said slowly. “Do we? I smelled sulfur all the way here, sometimes worse.”

“Of course we have God!” Naum said, his face frowning deeply at the notion otherwise. “Would he side with the Reds, priest murdering, orphan making, monk slaying, academics? No, the Lord has always been with us, men of farms and women of cloth!”

Kazmus stared as the imp gestured at Naum, frantic hands flailing like a terrified child. Kazmus followed the finger towards the old man’s sermon. He stretched, it seemed to Kazmus, large above the crowd, a singular tendril raising him into the air, twisting down into the earth as it went. There were gasps from the crowd.

“A saint, a miracle…” Alyona whispered.

“Who can doubt we have God on our side now?” one of the older men muttered.

Kazmus kept quiet, watching Makariy’s face contort. But he seemed to relent. They would fight, Makariy said, they would fight in the way that few beat many, quick and strong like lighting. There was no joy when Makariy spoke.


The next few days, Kazmus saw his little imp more and more.

“What is it, friend?” Kazmus said, leaning down as it gasped, trying to speak. It walked along the newly made barricade that was to be Kazmus’s standing spot, lined with a good view into the woods and hidden by branches. The imp pointed west, plaintively, time and again.

“Ah, don’t go on like that. West ain’t much better, little one. The Whites will get you out there. Or worse.”

The imp grew irritable and leapt toward Kuzmas, grabbing him with both hands, and turning him East. There, Kuzmas saw a terrible mass, a mountainous shape in the form of a human head rising out of the ground. A dark helm was on it’s head, and from its neck and hair spread a number of tendrils like trees. It’s mouth was open wide, in a perpetual roar. The landscape bent around it, black and bleak hills and stars shining a pale red. Hosts of insects flew out.

But this was not, to Kuzmas confusion, merely a change. Rather it was like the world as he saw it was superimposed onto this new one, as a thin photograph was held over one’s eyes. As he heard the distant gunfire, he saw the great insects with long legs and deadly stingers shaped like grotesque fish bones. And Kuzmas felt light headed, as he saw more of the great blue imps coming around him.

“Gunfire! They’ve come!” Naum shouted from the lines. Alyona stood in her house, armed with a knife. As she sat, so armed behind an overturned table, Alyona muttered prayers unto God for deliverance, uttered pleas for a place in heaven, and that her sins be forgiven.

“Grant us victory this day, All Mighty Lord, grant us-” she said over and over, until a growing tone rose in her ear.

“Oh, not now, not now. Not when they are just over the hill.”

The music played, rising and falling, played alluring and calming. The tone played sounds like angelic singing and bestial growling. The lyrics made no sense, formed by a choir invisible. But their meaning was clear. Run. Run West. Run to woods west.

“No, no, no. We stand and fight.”

A second choir joined the first now, urging more and more to run. But the tone was now the deep rumble of stones, the cracking of wood, the roar of river. A sweeping, a smashing, a consuming sound. A warning, a warning that a great predator, a great host was coming to carry her off parcel by parcel and wash out any trace of her.

Even if they didn’t kill her, even if her pulsing blood filled body was untouched, she would die.

Alyona refused still to move. She would stay and fight, and if that meant die, she would die. This was where she was meant to be.

The song changed again, a third sound. This one made no effort at message, only feeling. A rhythm of explosive blasts, the sounds of dead men crying out in misery, the weeping of children, the symphony of the dead. As it played, the house seemed to shake under the weight of the sounds. As it moved, for a moment, Alyona was able to see a spiraling staircase of stars rising out onto the sky, the movements of brilliant faces and shifting forms.

“Fine! Fine.” Alyona said, peaking over the table. Naum was staring walking about with his hunting rifle, looking about every which way. But if the music would not cease it’s torment until she left, then she’d leave. The back. The back door would be unguarded.

***********************************************************************Makariy stood calmly along the edge of the barracks. The air buzzed about him, vibrations tingling through his body. He had felt them on the Eastern Front. They had led him home, although he still waited for why.

He could smell, even from a distance, that moldy sulfur that seemed to settle around the Red Army. The Black Army had a corpse like touch to it as well, lacking the strange liveliness of the Reds. There was desperation to Black Army troops, a madness of some half-born half-dead creature. And when he squinted he thought he saw something behind them, a shadow larger then them cast behind them. But only occasionally.

Makariy watched dimly as he saw the troops moving like flood waters among the trees. A thousand was a vast number, one that without prior knowledge, could not be explained or expected. Naum might get the people to stand. To hold their ground. To die and be martyred. But Makariy was rooted by that smell and that vibration in the air, that feeling that suddenly something was going to rip and tear the very world around him apart. The fields of battle rooted him, the conviction of doomed men rooted him. He knew that without a miracle he was here to die with his fellows.

And for a moment, there was.

There was a great light, shining light striking out, slicing itself open like the world was a deck of playing cards and the wind was scattering them apart to show something else unraveling about him. The trees peeled back to show a brilliant dance of lights and a strange wind worked it’s way through from the other side, smelling of lilacs and the taste honey. The tear rotated about, drawing Makariy’s eyes with it as the first gunshot rang through the air, answered by a hundred of it’s compatriots and enraged shouting.

It lead back to the gruesome woods of hanging bodies and burial mounds, the place where the world seemed to have left the tangible and slipped into a dream like state. Where the swaying mutilated form of Red men seemed just ready to prophesy in this new world.

None noticed Makariy leave as the second stanza of shots started. One rifle was the same as every other, and Naum had whirled them into a frenzied swarm around him. No ant ever notices if one of it’s own slips away, even if they were merely washed away by the rolling rain.


Kazmus followed the imp to hill. Alyona was pulled along by ancient song. And Makariy drawn by the shimmering promise of escape. Each found their way into the hanging woods, surrounded above by dead foes and below by buried beloved. At the meeting of the red and the green, where the corpses and worms crawled, they all saw it as they heard it as they smelled it as they tasted it as they felt it. It was a sensation of the entire body lifted upward and outward, like the loosening of a too tight belt allowing a belly to roll out.

And the world seemed to bend round them, and the sky bowed for them, and behind it they saw worlds undreamed of. Great hands pulled them forward, up and past what lay below, out of their bodies and into a heaven of planet sized palaces. When they looked down, the small Russian village was as small as a needle, the universe fading backwards and away. And they felt chains holding them down, chains of bone and flesh.

So they cut themselves free.


So a mild confession: I ended up not using as much of the djinn research as I planned. Rather, for most of the ‘mysticism’ on display here, I made use of a 1960s Russian text called “Rose of the World”. This story is one I’m fairly certain I could expand on (it’s rushed near the midsection, Makariy doesn’t get much development, etc) but the amount of space and time worked against that. However, the base idea is one that if I get the chance I’d like to return too. If I had the foresight, this might have been as good as the AntiMuse story (my personal favorite from the Society).

Next week, we go to SPAAACE.

And therefore everything must die.

Come back next week to learn more!

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